2020-02-21: The Road To Texas Begins

Salton Sea Sunset - Scenery
My first day on the road to Texas ended with this sunset at Unit #1 of the Salton Sea NWR near Westmoreland California in Imperial County.

My journey into Texas has been delayed while I’ve been preparing my travel gear for the trip. I put a lot of my energy into a kayak I’d hoped to bring with me, but when I broke the steering arm that drives the rudder, I had to decide if it was worth it to delay the trip and repair the piece. As much as I was looking forward to having the kayak with me, I could not justify another delay. So I mothballed the boat on Thursday and gathered the gear I felt was essential, and Friday afternoon I hit the road.

My goal when on the road is to avoid freeway travel as much as possible. I always enjoy crossing the county mountains and I chose my route to carry me through Ramona and Santa Ysabel, then north towards Warner Springs. One of my favorite roads in the county is S-2, which follows the desert edges below the coastal mountains. As I was turning onto this road just south of Warner Springs I spotted several large flocks of Blackbirds. I know this area is often a good location to find Tricolored Blackbirds (threatened species) and when I investigated more closely I found them here mixed in with Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brewer’s Blackbirds and Starlings. After capturing some shots of the flocks in flight, I could see them moving north, and I knew of a small cienega up the road a few hundred yards to the north. My suspicions were confirmed and I parked on a wide shoulder and captured images of individual birds.

I left the blackbirds feeling my trip was off to a good start. I continued on the S-2 road and rejoined Highway 78, making a left turn at Scissors Crossing. From here the road wound east through the San Felipe Narrows to the desert floor at Plum Canyon. Seven miles from Scissors Crossing is a county campground called Tamarisk Grove, where Long-Eared Owls sometimes hangout. I needed to stretch my legs anyway so I took a walk through the camp and found an owl. These birds are very photogenic if they come into the open (even a little). But this bird found a perch deep in the dense cover, so I contented myself to binocular views and didn’t bother fetching my camera.

I was now within striking distance of the Salton Sea, so I climbed back in my RV and continued east. When I reached Vendel Road (a favorite Salton Sea stop) the western skies, with the sun falling behind the mountains, was special. There wasn’t time to set up my dSLR, so I used my phone and captured the moment.

My next planned stop is the Gilbert Riparian Preserve near Phoenix. I usually avoid the urban sprawl of the Phoenix area when I tour Arizona, but I’d heard so much about the “Water Ranch”, I feel it’s time to check it out.

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